President Donald Trump is insisting that the horrific mass shooting at a Texas church Sunday was not “a guns situation” but, rather, an issue with mental health—because that’s always how these conversations go.
“I think that mental health is your problem here,” Trump told reporters at a press conference in Tokyo Monday, according to Time magazine. “This was a very, based on preliminary reports, very deranged individual, a lot of problems, over a long period of time.
“We have a lot of mental-health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation,” he added.
Time notes that Trump made his comments after a reporter asked about gun-control measures in light of another mass shooting in the U.S. during a joint press conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, Trump brushed the question off, saying it was “a little bit soon” to be discussing guns, despite the recent proliferation of mass shootings across the country and the thousands who lose their lives each year to gun violence.
“Fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction; otherwise it [wouldn’t] have been as bad as it was … it would have been much worse,” Trump said, referring to a local man who grabbed his own rifle and chased the shooter after the carnage at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
However, despite Trump’s claims, it currently remains unclear if the shooter, identified as 26-year-old Devin P. Kelley, showed any signs of mental illness, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Kelley did, however, receive a bad-conduct discharge from the Air Force three years ago after he was court-martialed and convicted of assaulting his spouse and their child.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Federal law prohibits a person who has been dishonorably discharged from buying a firearm. Whether Kelley’s discharge would trigger the law was not immediately clear.
The Times also notes:
The 1968 Gun Control Act made it unlawful for a licensed firearms dealer to sell a weapon to a person with a dishonorable discharge or for such a person “to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”
Kelley was sentenced to 12 months in custody.
After his prison stint, Kelley was reduced in rank until he was ultimately released from the military on a bad-conduct discharge in 2014, the Washington Post reports.
Authorities found several weapons in Kelley’s vehicle after he died, although it is not clear how he got them.
If the law should have prevented Kelley from getting his hands on firearms, it definitely sounds like there’s a lot more going on than a mental-health issue. But we know how the dialogue goes. More and more people die, there are no safe places, and the finger is pointed everywhere except at the smoking gun.